I hired a sole use large banca for our group at a cost of P500 return: possibly when they saw a Caucasian face, the price rose from what I expected might be P300 return from Matalom to the island.
Boarding the banca involved travelling on a bamboo raft (a first for me) for 20 metres to the boat as it was relatively low tide. Boarding the banca was via a narrow gangplank but there was a crew of four so plenty of hands were able to assist.
The trip took 11 minutes in calm seas, though on the way back at 1400 the sea was a trifle choppier.
Initial;ly I thought of renting a nipa hut but the wind was a bit strong so we transferred to the side near the marine sanctuary. Admittance to the island was 60 pesos each: a table and three chairs under the shade of a pili nut tree cost 180 pesos. We were three or four metres if that from the stunning sandy waters.
I snorkelled but didn't go out far and hence saw few fish.
We went to the sari-sari stores and found a dampa whose proprietor steamed a huge amount of scallops (the smaller ones were best) for 100 pesos. One of my companions also tried three saang (sort of large seasnails) which he said were not as nice as the scallops: the three also cost 100 pesos. We gave the remaining delicious scallops to our boatmen on our return.
While one can buy biscuits and drinks on the island from the sari sari (small) stores, we instead went to stalls at Maasin City near Metro supermarket and bought a pineapple (cut on the spot) for 30 pesos and a kilo of mangoes for 60 pesos. We also bought snacks at the near new Metro supermarket.
Facilities on the island are run down (toilets especially): this needs a lot of attention.
However teh beach was clean apart from a few cigarette butts although I suspect rubbish disposal is a problem especially on weekends. However there were perhaps 10 other visitors on the weekday on which we went.
All in all this was a great way to spend two and a half hours but take 30 plus SPF sunblock, a hat and drinks. It was a far better experience than I expected sitting under the shade looking at great sand and water close by: the seas at teh marine sanctuary were calim. There are several operators at different Matalom departure points to take you to the island.
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